LAYTON -- Rather than Santa, his reindeer or his elves, it was uniformed airmen from Hill Air Force Base who made special Christmas deliveries throughout the Top of Utah on Wednesday.
About 75 airmen from the base's 388th and 419th fighter wings gathered at the Utah Foster Care Foundation House in Ogden to help package and deliver Christmas presents to foster and adoptive families from North Salt Lake to the Utah/Idaho border.
The airmen stuffed the wrapped gifts into large trash bags and hauled them off to the families in need, using their own vehicles and personal leave time from work.
"They use all of their own resources," said Brenda Durtschi, Northern Utah representative for the Utah Foster Care Foundation. "It's really a big effort on their part."
Durtschi said the presents, totaling more than 900, were donated by local businesses and residents and would be used to help about 310 foster children along the Wasatch Front.
"The Legislature has cut the reimbursement for foster families each of the last two years, and now it's about $14-16 per day, depending on the age of the child," Durtschi said. "So this is really big for all these families."
Layton residents Jose and Kathy Torres were among the families touched by the gift drive Wednesday.
The couple has been fostering children for nearly 10 years and currently has six adopted children and two foster children.
"We are unable to have kids, so we (adopted) one and then he wanted some brothers and sisters," Kathy Torres said. "So here we are with eight. They definitely keep us young."
Drue Titensor, a Layton-area reservist with the 419th, said he has participated in the gift drive for the past three years, and each year he finds himself amazed at the foster families he visits.
"It takes a special set of people to raise big families like this," he said. "I have three kids and sometimes that can be overwhelming. We're just glad we could lend a hand today."
The gift drive was organized by the northern region of the Utah Foster Care Foundation and benefits hundreds of children in foster care.
Durtschi said there will be last-minute placements of foster children during the holidays, and gift cards and cash donations are still being accepted. To contribute, call 877-505-5437.
For more information on becoming a foster/adoptive parent, call 801-392-1114 or go to www.utahfostercare.org.